The New York Giants will meet the Los Angeles Rams Sunday for the first time since an ugly 2014 brawl between the teams that culminated in three ejections and numerous fines.
The incident was sparked by an Odell Beckham TD celebration, deemed excessive by the Rams (and referees; Beckham was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct). Rams LB Alec Ogletree retaliated on the Giants ensuing drive by hitting Beckham late, and well out of bounds.
Despite that meeting, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher decided to forego the ‘bait Beckham’ narrative, saying only that his team has “great respect” for Big Blue.
“We're going to play between the snap and the whistle and that's it. We've got great respect for their players. Odell, he's an outstanding competitor and you just look at what he did in the second half to win that game [vs. Ravens]. No, we're not going there. Our guys are going to play hard and play fast, tackle and have been instructed not to hurt the football team,” Fisher told assorted media on Wednesday.
— Rams coach Jeff Fisher
Elaborating on the brawl, Fisher says “I thought it wasn't good for the game. It's behind us. Hopefully everybody involved learned from it. It was not good for the game and the league is taking steps to avoid those type of situations.”
In all, Fisher wants to keep his focus on winning the game and understandably so. But it’s hard to imagine the intensity won’t boil over at some point between the Giants chippy wideout and Rams physical defense.
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Here are a few more takeaways from Fisher’s media session.
On Eli Manning & the Giants much-beleaguered offense ...
“Eli's playing well, he's trusting the outside guys. I'm just really impressed with all three receivers. Sterling Shepard is playing really good inside. If you didn't know, you wouldn't expect him to be a rookie, let me put it to you that way. Odell Beckham Jr.'s big game last week with big play after big play. Victor Cruz is playing really well. The offensive line is in sync and not taking a lot of sacks and getting rid of the football. They've got a run game that can put some stress on your defense. It's a well-coached group. “
On the Rams 37-27 loss to the Giants in 2014 ...
“I was disappointed in the loss. We had some opportunities but we gave up some big plays. Eli felt comfortable, I think, and he got the ball spread around. They ran the ball a little bit; you know their defense played well. We made some plays but we didn't make enough plays.”
On the decision to arrive in London and start preparation early ...
“What would your preference be, to fly to Detroit then go back to LA, then fly 11 hours back to London? ...Today was our first (practice) day, we just got off the field and I thought we had outstanding work.
On DT Aaron Donald ...
“... I've not had anybody that's played with as much talent, athletic ability and instinct and commitment than him. He's a special player. He's one of the top interior defensive linemen in the league. We all know that they rate people based on production but the tackles for losses and the pressures and the hits the quarterbacks and his ability to defeat double teams, it's really quite impressive. He's off to a great start early in his career. He's going to be an outstanding player.”
On former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins ...
Fisher was especially effusive in his praise of ex-Ram turned Giants CB Janoris Jenkins. ‘Jackrabbit’ has been GM Jerry Reese’s biggest off-season signing, by far. He’s made plays all over the field and has the defense’s only two interceptions on the season, both coming against Aaron Rodgers. He’s been having a breakout season in New York, and Fisher takes it a step further, when asked how tough it was to lose Jenkins. [Read more about Jenkins]
“It was a disappointing loss for us. He's an outstanding young man, one of my favorites that I've ever had an opportunity to coach. With all due respect to the other corners in the league right now, it's hard to find one that's playing better than he is.
“I can assure you, you guys have probably have not been in a defensive meeting room, but I can pretty much assure you that he sits in the front row because that's what he did here,” he continued. “I'm just saying to reiterate, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a corner in this league who's playing better than he is. When asked to man-up and cover, he's a shutdown corner.”